Embodying Solitude

Chapter 8 of the Bodhicaryavatara is all about perfecting meditative absorption. It speaks of the criticality of reflection unto oneself, in disassociating from worldly distractions. Within the text, one verse stuck out to me: “Thus one should recoil from sensual desires and cultivate delight in solitude, in tranquil woodlands empty of contention and strife” (85).

As I read that verse, I could not help but think of its relevance to current events, of how universal the feeling of solitude is during this time. With the mandatory stay-at- home order throughout the nation, I had told myself that this solitude would become an opportunity for me to focus on my mind and body. A time for reflection and healing. Like the verse had said, I imagined this solitude to produce an equanimity that I desperately needed in this time of uncertainty. But I had hoped that this would come naturally. By resting and taking care of myself that that calmness and delight would sprout organically. But now that I’ve been dealing with this solitude for weeks now, I have realized how crucial it is to be deliberate in engaging with my solitude. In reality, I have been partaking in solitude, not embodying it. From now on, I want to interact with my solitude that directly demands my actions and mentality. Like verse 88 posits, “One’s conduct and dwelling are one’s own choice. Bound to none, one enjoys that happiness and contentment which even for a king is hard to find”.